Killer Swing

I was involved with sports for a significant portion of my adolescence. Basketball, soccer, track, and softball. I excelled in two of those (track and soccer) until a career ending knee surgery at age 15, and now I stick to the treadmill.

On the bright side, I got out of it before I had time to be super invested or think I had a chance of collegiate excellence, not that there was much hope of it in the first place.

And of all my athletic ventures, the sport I wish I had been better at is softball.

I was a half-decent catcher, surprisingly, although it exacerbated said knee issues. It was also assigned to me after I failed at shortstop and outfield. However, I could throw the farthest on the team. And I had a killer swing.

The issue was that I had 0% sense of aim, couldn’t hit a target, and could not connect with the ball to save my life.

It was a shame, really. When I first started out, I was already involved in soccer and basketball, so I looked like an athlete. I remember how excited my coaches looked to have me on the team when they saw me run. And when I swung a bat, they complimented my form with comments like, “killer swing!”

But, all too soon their praise turned to exasperation when they realized, during batting practice, that I could not connect with the ball. Watching the hope drain out of their eyes every time I struck out (which was, unfortunately, often) was pretty brutal, at the time. It was also perplexing to my teammates. I mentioned that I could throw the farthest on my team, and that was true – which is why I started in the outfield. But I also couldn’t aim AT ALL. I once tried to throw someone out at first from left field and threw it so far over the first baseman’s head the runner almost scored. I was a very bizarre combination of incredible strength, powerful image, and a stunning lack of grace and alarming inability to properly regulate my senses and limbs.

The one positive about my killer swing, though, was the fear it put into the eyes of my competition. And I did get some enjoyment out of that, as did my coaches and teammates. I mean, I was young then, but involvement in lots of sports meant that I cut an impressive figure, and I’ve always had a bitch face, so I looked kind of scary. I was able to intimidate, usually in pre-game warm ups, where I could usually hide how terrible I really was and look much more skilled.

So, if I couldn’t hit, I did what I could to put my killer swing to use.

I was usually put into a favorable spot in the lineup (hope sprang eternal for my coaches) and I distinctly remember one instance where I was standing in the on deck circle, probably thinking about snacks, and the opposing coach was watching me swing, and he yelled out to his pitcher, “Watch out for this next one!” and it took all my inner-strength not to laugh out loud. Because, if I wasn’t going to get any better (which I never did), I needed to be able to find humor in the situation.

And I guess the coach’s warning rankled his pitcher, because she didn’t throw the ball anywhere near the strike zone and I sailed through with a walk. I tried to get walked a lot, to be honest, since I knew I couldn’t hit. I also glared a lot to try and intimidate competitors not to mess with me, or peg my weaknesses. And I got by well enough without exposing my inabilities too badly, in most games. But I had fun playing, regardless.

So the moral of the story? Make the best of your situation, and even if you can’t back up your killer swing, find other ways to make your shortcomings work for you.

Tides

I have made it known in the past that I don’t like the beach.

Specifically, I don’t like sand, hot weather, or the blaring sun. I don’t swim in the ocean (or go in it past my knees) and I don’t even really swim in pools. I am a temperate, sensible ~70 degree type girl. I like having seasons. I like trees that change color.

My family and I just took a trip to Myrtle Beach, our first real vacation in two years due to the pandemic. We, despite all being fully vaccinated, were appropriately masked in public, although I can’t say the same for many other folks…

I walked the beach in the mornings, before the sandcastle builders, sun-tanners, and wave-chasers appeared, and before the sun got too hot. Even went barefoot in the sand. There was usually a nice breeze. Pleasant people. One morning I brought my Starbucks because even in South Carolina (the state of my youth, fun fact) I am nothing if not a basic bitch.

In the evenings, I would walk the beach around sundown. Most folks had already departed by that time, and the heat of the day had waned, and the water felt good on my feet. My mom usually came along to hunt shells, and my dad would try and skip flat shells across the water. A couple of times, I even brought a drink along, of the adult variety, since pretty much the only time I consume alcohol is when I am on vacation.

It was so peaceful. Calming. Tranquil. And as someone on the cusp of thirty, whose life is in a semi-state of flux, whose mind is so often in a tumult, I appreciated those morning and evening walks more during this trip than ever before. I treasured them. It was my favorite part of the trip, aside from quality time with my family.

I have felt the pull of many tides, lately. The rough, crashing tides of the evening, creeping further up the shore, creating pools in the sand and washing away footsteps of the past. The morning pull, not as wild but equally insistent, preparing the shore for a new day and carrying the promise of something fresh. The gentle lull of midday. And yet, even experiencing both over the last week, I have not felt torn. I even felt a little bit of clarity.

It was difficult to say goodbye to the beach, this time. I even felt a little emotional during my last morning walk on Saturday. But though I am home now, I will keep that feeling with me.

The feeling of going with the tides, without allowing myself to be lost at sea.

To Say Goodbye

After 25 years, my parents have sold the family home.

It is an inevitable event – my parents never intended to stay in PA forever. They’ll still be here for a little bit longer, but decided to strike while the housing market iron was hot for sellers. In a little over a week, my childhood home will belong to someone else.

It’s bittersweet – and unexpectedly difficult – to say goodbye, even though I haven’t lived there in two years. When the “SOLD” sign first went up, it was surreal. It’s especially exciting for my parents, who are one step closer to their retirement goals. And their realtor is a high school friend of mine, which was pretty cool. But the last month or so has become a flurry of moving sales, boxes, lots of driving back and forth, and my dad trying to unload years and years of sports collectibles to make the eventual move south easier.

There are many things I will miss about the house. The patio, where we spent many nights sitting and laughing or playing board games. The single squeaky stair on the way down to the landing. The pear tree out front, which stank to high heavens, but from which I could occasionally hear an owl hooting in the wee hours of the morning. My childhood bedroom, where I spent many hours writing, creating, and dreaming. The living room, home of many, many movie nights. The list goes on.

Perhaps the thing I will miss the most, as trivial as it sounds, is my pine tree.

I should make it known that the tree is enormous – but it started as a tiny little sapling that I brought home from kindergarten on Earth Day in 1997. We planted it in the side yard, and – though I ran over it with a sled quite a few times over the winters – it flourished. It’s now almost, if not as tall as, the house. Every year, I would marvel as it grew larger, and larger still. Out of all the trees around the house, it has grown the largest, and lasted the longest. It has defied all the odds – from a puny little sapling to a monstrous pine, towering over the driveway.

It will be hard to say goodbye to a house with a quarter century of memories inside – but it feels good to pass it on to someone else. A new family, who will hopefully love and appreciate the house as much as we did, and fill it with even more wonderful moments. And I hope they love my pine tree as much as I did – at the very least, they certainly won’t be running over it with a sled.

Slump

As strange as it sounds, the start of the pandemic in 2020 marks the last time I read a book.

For those who know me well, that’s pretty wild. Because in previous years, also documented on this site, I’ve been able to knock out 100+ books. But I only read 1 or 2 books in 2020, and absolutely none so far in 2021. NONE. AND I LOVE BOOKS!!!

I do believe the impetus for it was because I do most of my reading at the gym, and, when the lockdown hit, my gym was closed. And not going to the gym for months on end caused me to hit a wall with reading, and, admittedly, I have struggled with my desire to go back to the gym now that I am vaccinated.

So there are two slumps I am currently in, really – a reading slump and a working out slump. I’m also in a bit of a writing slump, but I’m working with an editor at the moment to help kickstart my inspiration/motivation, so I won’t go into that. As for the working out, I still take walks with my sister/nephew/mom a few times a week, but it doesn’t have the same effect as hitting the gym, even though I mostly do cardio anyway. And, sadly, this has taken a negative effect on my health, including a 37 pound weight gain over the course of the past year. And now that I’ve gotten used to not going to the gym, it’s hard to go back. And even though I have books on my nook, it’s been hard for me to pick them up.

I guess I am just in an overall slump. Several aspects of my life are kind of stagnant, and I’m finding it difficult to dig myself out of it. I am very fortunate that I did not suffer the same obstacles and struggles that many others did during the pandemic – I still have my job, my family is great, and I overall have a lot to be thankful for – I simply find myself treading water. And that kind of feeling seeps from one thing to another – I find it hard to write when I find it hard to read, I find it hard to cook healthy meals when I find it hard to work out, etc. What little semblance of a routine I used to have has been upended, and I’m scrambling to recover before it gets worse.

I have been exploring going back to behavioral therapy, but I am curious… how do others dig themselves out of a slump? Especially when it has the ripple effect into so many other facets of your life? I’d love to know!

Mini Oscars Reaction 2021

(I usually just jot down my reactions whole watching the Oscars, and this year was no different…. EXCEPT I FORGOT TO POST THIS ON MONDAY. LOL. So here it is many days late.)

Ugh, Carey Mulligan’s dress. 😍 Gorgeous.

Well, the setting is pretty!

I actually saw all the short films except documentary this year so I am stoked to be able to guess winners with more insight.

I, too, remember when Diane Keaton wore a plaid trench to the Oscars. It was great.

Where has Matthew McConaughey been

Ugh. A movie montage gets me every time. 😭

Emerald Fennel ❀️ Great British Compliment-Off between her and Mulligan.

Ooooh Riz Ahmed in that suit. 😍

Amanda Seyfried’s dress is KILLER.

Is Daniel Pemberton Keith Urban’s long lost cousin

Wait, don’t tell me I missed Husavik!!??!! I hope not!!! I didn’t know this started earlier or I would have started watching sooner.

This song is incredible. πŸ”₯ Her voice is so clear!!!

Daniel Kaluuya. That’s it.

Is Trial of the Chicago Seven up for Makeup and Hairstyling? Because Mark Rylance’s wig in that movie was a crime.

ALAN S. KIM!!!!!!! Playing his Switch in the background!!! 🀣🀣🀣

Metallics and semi-bare midriffs seem to be the dress theme tonight

Angela Basset always looks amazing. Even in those sleeves.

Seeing Chloe Zhao reminds me how excited I am to see Eternals!!!

H.E.R. Stun.Ning.

Please, please tell me that performing the songs ahead of time will make the actual ceremony shorter. Please. For the love of all things I hold dear.

EMERALD FENNEL for original screenplay!!!!!! YESSSSSSS SO DESERVED!!!

Ugh, The Father was so heart-wrenching. And Florian Zeller can GET IT.

I suppose I will add Another Round to my “To Watch” list.

Lakeith and Daniel should not have to go against each other but it is what it is, I’m pulling for Daniel but Paul Raci was incredible as well.

Well-deserved. Daniel Kaluuya was spellbinding in that film.

So… We not showing clips of the movies? That’s the part I like the most. 😩

West Side Story? Okay. I guess.

It does take a lot of work to make Viola Davis look like Ma Rainey. Because she is beautiful and did NOT look it in that film.

Oh thank god one less speech

The lovely translator is back! Bong Joon HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

YEEEAH CHLOE ZHAO!!!!!!!! And Swankie is there!!!! 😭

Sound of Metal better win this.

Yesssssssss!!!!!!!

Ugh, all the short films were so good. But I really want Two Distant Strangers to win.

YESSSSSS they should have brought the dog though.

Seriously. No clips of the movies? Wtf, man.

Genius Loci was my favorite and Burrow was the cutest but I am sure it is going to If Anything Happens, I Love You because it was definitely the most powerful.

I recommend all the shorts, live action and animated.

Onward was the last film I saw in theaters before the shut down, it was v good but I think Soul takes it.

I did not have a chance to watch the documentaries this year but NEXT YEAR I SHALL.

Vivre la France!!!!!!

I want an Octopus for a teacher. 😩

A Tenet win!!! What a nice surprise. No one can say it wasn’t a visually stunning movie! And the shortest speech of the night, thank god.

Yuh-Jung Youn! Or Olivia. Or Amanda. I can’t pick.

This woman is a TREASURE. “I’m luckier than you.” LMFAO. Best speech of the night.

That woman looked SO ANGRY lol

Mank! A movie for all us unironic Citizen Kane lovers. Though I thought The Father was a shoo in.

UGHHHHH Sean Bobbit for Judas and the Black Messiah was my fave for Cinematography but Mank was a close second. So no disappointment here.

Helloooooo Mr. Ford!

I understand it’s a huge opportunity and honor to win an Oscar but DEAR GOD they need to put a time limit on the speeches. Let them record a longer version off camera and upload it to the Academy Youtube or something.

❀️ Tyler Perry

Actually disappointed in the score winner, Blanchard is incredible. 😩 His score for BlackKklansman was snubbed and I am STILL SO BITTER. But I digress….

Let’s. πŸ‘Get.πŸ‘Moving.πŸ‘People.

So, no In Memoriam?

Oh no there it is.

😭😭😭😭😭

This show does not need to be over 3 hours. And I LIKE the Oscars. They are BARELY showing clips of anything and it’s too long already.

Best Picture before Best Actor and Actress? Weird flex but okay.

Wow, not expecting the Nomadland win but it is def deserving. A very good film with an intimate feel!

Viola Davis and Frances McDormand are forces to be reckoned with but I am pulling for Mulligan….

Butttt Fran is fine too. 😊

Okay, she is the queen of speeches.

Will Joaquin Phoenix mention cows again?

So we end with no speech because Hopkins ain’t there. Well planned, Oscars. πŸ˜‘

Obviously expecting the Boseman win, and he 100000% deserved it – but people best not blame Anthony Hopkins for this, because he was incredible in The Father. If anything, blame the damn Academy.

A Dose of Justice (League)

When word first began circulating of the fabled “Snydercut” of the 2017 Justice League film, I was intrigued. I participated in the #releasethesnydercut hype. However, it was difficult to believe, even if such a thing existed, it would ever see life on screen. For reference, Snyder stepped down from directorial duties following a family tragedy, coupled with what seems to have been a massive amount of studio interference with the vision he had in mind for not only the film, but the then-universe of the DCEU as a whole. The door seemed to be closed.

The 2017 version of the film that fans got to see in theaters was a botched, patchwork disaster of film-making that couldn’t settle on a tone or consistent vision and made a mockery of the characters. I’d prefer not to mention the additional director/writer who was brought on board to “fix” the movie after Snyder departed, but many fans have dubbed the theatrical cut the “Josstice League” version, so… take from that what you will. Since then, the DCEU has stepped away from the darker, desaturated world Snyder first presented in 2013’s criminally underrated Man of Steel, aiming to get the struggling cinematic universe off the ground via solo, self-contained outings – an effort which has, thanks to films like 2017’s Wonder Woman (NOT WW84) 2018’s Aquaman, and 2019’s Shazam! and Joker, has seen some degree of success, though whether any real connected “universe” remains has been left somewhat ambiguous.

In 2020, when it was announced that, after literal years, Zack Snyder would get to present his “Snydercut” of Justice League on HBOMax, it was almost unbelievable. Immediately, like Superman’s death knell, speculation rippled across the internet. Naysayers assumed it would just be a longer, more dour version of the monster brought to theaters in 2017, while steadfast fans prepared to see the vision they were deprived of years ago. And, as a fan of Snyder, I was personally hyped – but also apprehensive.

Ezra Miller as The Flash, Henry Cavill as Superman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ben Affleck as Batman, and Jason Momoa as Aquaman.

I’ve been a long-time admirer of Snyder’s work – it is rare, these days, to see an artist or creator who is so earnestly passionate about his work, and whose style is utterly distinct that it is immediately noticeable when a work is theirs. Plus, Snyder just seems like an overall great guy. The man is capable of bringing epics to the screen – I forever stand by the statement that 2009’s Watchmen is one of the greatest comic book adaptations of all time. His works aren’t perfect, of course. Even I can admit that the theatrical version of 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, while it was a visual spectacle, is not a great movie. The Ultimate Edition does rectify that somewhat, but after the film’s poor critical performance, it is not hard to understand why WB felt the need to interfere with the production Justice League… but, clearly the way they went about it was absolutely ridiculous and misguided, and the “Josstice League” cut is a testament to that monumentally erroneous approach, not to mention the rumors of misconduct during production.

My dad and I sat down to watch the Snydercut on release day, March 18th… and from the get go, we were stunned by how different it was. How more in tune it felt with the previous movies, how, even though some scenes were similar to the theatrical version, the way they were presented gave them new, more powerful significance. Batman is given the redemption he deserves. Cyborg had an arc that gave him actual character development, one of the best parts of the movie, and his father is given more to do that bears actual weight in the story. Steppenwolf was a fleshed out, solid villain with coherent motivations – and who I actually FELT BAD FOR at one point, as he was getting the verbal smackdown from DeSaad, who was CUT FROM THE THEATRICAL VERSION along with the great and terrible Darkseid. Action scenes were grittier, more impressive, and on a grander scale – especially the Amazons battling Steppenwolf on Themyscira. Flash was no longer reduced to a rambling, silly joke-spewer, and features in what is possible one of the best scenes ever realized in a superhero movie – if you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it, but it is incredible. THE BLACK SUIT. That stupid Russian family sublot is gone. Aquaman has more to do, and his character is in line with his solo film. All of the restorations – from the cut characters, the slaughtered action sequences, the altered dialogue – show that the original vision was a four-hour epic of storytelling. It is almost CRIMINAL to see what was left on the cutting room floor, which would have never seen the light of day had Zack not been able to complete the cut – I mean, the four hour cut would have never made it to theaters anyway, but many of the changes are still mind-boggling. This version is dark, for sure – and it earns that ‘R’ rating with the violence – but it’s unique, it has some decent comedic moments, it does (no pun intended) justice to every character, and boasts a cohesive plot and pacing that makes four hours feel nothing like an uphill slog. The dialogue is a little clunky at times, but the positives FAR outweigh the negatives. And, in what is possibly the best thing to come from the original film being brought to the world… Henry Cavill’s CGI face is nowhere to be seen. I still have nightmares about that face.

The Snydercut makes the theatrical version look like a joke. And a bad one, at that. Like… to be frank… I hope WB is embarrassed to see the positive reception Snyder is getting as opposed to the Frankenstein they slapped onscreen in 2017. It’s been trending for days. Celebrities are tweeting about it. I mean, I would be embarrassed to have that much egg on my face.

The theatrical version tried to keep pace with Marvel – which, even in 2017, pre-End Game, was impossible. The DCEU was never going to be the MCU, and they should have never tried. And now, having seen the Snydercut – which, in contrast to the theatrical cut, is getting pretty damn good reviews, despite fairly consistent criticism of the runtime – it makes me so, so sad that we will, most likely, never see what could have been had Snyder remained onboard for the sequels. #Restorethesnyderverse is a movement I can get behind, but the logistics of it are absurdly complicated. Such a feat seems impossible now – not only because WB is doubling down on their decision to move on from that chapter, but Affleck has stepped away from the Batman role, Ray Fisher is embroiled in controversy with the studio and is unlikely to return as Cyborg, and I don’t think anyone would blame Snyder for not wanting to go back down that route after the way he was treated. I wish better things for him, honestly. And, in a side note… seeing “For Autumn” at the end of the film made me tear up. The film is a monument to Zack’s love for his family, not only his passion for filmmaking.

The Snyderverse may never be restored in full the way it was originally intended, but the release of the Snydercut is a landmark in the world of film, and a dose of justice for not only a much-beleaguered director, but for all who were involved in the original project and had their work tossed aside. The actors who had their scenes altered, or cut entirely. Tom Holkenborg, whose score finally got to be used after he was replaced last minute by Danny Elfman back in 2017 (not Elfman’s fault, mind you). And the fans, who rang the first bell to #releasethesnydercut, and finally get to watch the movie they yearned for years ago.

Maybe the world wasn’t ready for Zack Snyder’s Justice League in 2017. Maybe we didn’t deserve it. But 2021 is a different time, a turned page, and finally, we got to join Snyder in the sun. I hope he is able to bask in his success, to relish in vindication, and know that so many fans will continue to stand by him no matter what he does next.

If you haven’t streamed Zack Snyder’s Justice League yet… do it. You won’t regret it.

The Old Days

Before there were podcasts, when television was still in its infancy, the internet was unheard of, and streaming platforms were a distant dream of the future, folks listened to the radio.

When I was a child, my father introduced me to old radio shows. Many of these were detective classics, like Johnny Dollar, Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe, and Richard Diamond, where the titular sleuths would embark on crusades to solve murders, thefts, and various other crimes, some with comedic twists, others far more grounded in the gritty tone of noir. These were proper radio shows, with full casts and a whole production team akin to a television show.

As an adult, though still on the recommendation of my dad and of the Radio Classics channel on SiriusXM, I went on to also discover radio shows like Suspense, CBS Mystery Theater, The Chase, Dimension X, Box 13, and many others. During the early phases of quarantine, back in March-May 2020, my job was closed to the public but salaried employees still had to work to fulfill online orders, and I binged some series in their entirety while doing so.

I’ll admit, some of these series are outdated, or contain content that is harmful, racist, or otherwise offensive by today’s standards (and should have been offensive back then, too, but we all know how 1930’s-50’s America was), and I don’t condone any of that. Hopefully, folks listen to those moments now and cringe at how out of touch they are, like I do. But, aside from those instances, I find so many of these shows engrossing, even now, so many years later.

Suspense, billed as “radio’s outstanding theater of thrills,” is a prime example of a show that features excellent storytelling capable of transporting listeners into another time and place entirely, even decades after their original air date. Many episodes will also be familiar to literature fans, such as the Agnes Moorehead-starring adaptation of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and adaptations of The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, some of the most enduring short stories of all time. Stories from Ray Bradbury, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Carl Stephenson, also make appearances, sometimes multiple times.

Of course, nowadays we have podcasts, television shows, webseries, and so many other forms of media, so radio has fallen a bit by the wayside, at least the way it was in its original incarnation – but there is still something inherently special about the radio shows of yore. I listen to the Radio Classics channel when I’m driving, and it transports me to a new world, where I can envision these stories in my own way, aided by the voices and music and vivid storytelling. It lets the listeners imagine, much like books do, but compacts stories into half hour to hour long episodes. Suspense is a notable favorite, as it covers so many kinds of stories, from horror to drama to science fiction, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the detective shows, especially Richard Diamond, as his tales often featured comedic spins and songs from leading man Dick Powell, rather than dour, rain-drenched streets and hopeless musings from a beleaguered gumshoe. Dimension X, a show that focused heavily on scifi, features some classic stories and examples of early-days science fiction, a genre that has become so over-saturated in recent years that the older stories have been drowned out, but remain well worth a listen.

Radio may be a bit of a forgotten form of media – but the Golden Age of Radio should never be let to fall by the wayside. If you have satellite radio, I highly recommend the Radio Classics station – it also has comedies like Our Miss Brooks, and westerns, like Gunsmoke, if that’s your thing. Many of these shows can also be found on Youtube or in CD form. Radio may be a bit of a forgotten form of media – but the Golden Days of Radio should never be let to fall by the wayside.